Uncertainty often casts a shadow on our mental well-being, creating a pervasive sense of unease and stress. The human brain craves predictability; it is wired to detect patterns and make sense of the world around us. When faced with uncertain situations or unexpected events, it triggers our innate fight-or-flight response, leading to heightened levels of cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. Over time, chronic exposure to uncertainty can exhaust our cognitive resources, making decision-making more difficult, reducing our ability to focus, and leading to feelings of anxiety and helplessness.
As human beings, living in a state of continuous unpredictability can erode our sense of safety and security. This erosion often manifests in various forms, such as sleep disturbances, intrusive thoughts, and even physical symptoms like headaches or gastrointestinal problems. The strain of an uncertain future holds can lead to behaviors such as excessive rumination or avoidance, further exacerbating feelings of isolation and disconnect. To protect our mental health, it becomes essential to develop coping strategies and seek support systems that help navigate these uncertain times, ensuring that we remain grounded and resilient in the face of life’s unpredictable nature.
Life inevitably throws curveballs leading to uncertainty at what feels like the most inopportune times. It can be a rollercoaster of emotions, and bring many questions: Where am I headed? How do I balance everything? What if I can’t figure out what I am supposed to be doing?
Without the ability to tell the future, it is crucial to find a balance between planning short-term goals within our immediate control and accepting that we will likely have to adapt to certain aspects of everyday life.
Take a deep breath and try the following tips are good practices to adopt to cope with uncertainty.
- Define (or redefine) your goals. Are your current goals still valid, or do they need to be altered to reflect changes in your situation? Identify what can be changed while also prioritizing goals that will need to remain as planned.
- Create mini-goals. Use a journal or go-to planner to keep track of daily, weekly, and monthly goals. This will provide more structure to long-term goals and allow you to track your progress. Checking off bite-size tasks creates the momentum to stay on track and provides a sense of control.
- Stay mentally active. Don’t let too many days go by without thinking about and acting on your goals. This can help ensure you don’t accidentally let them fall off your list. When it comes to long-term goals, simple examples can include brainstorming who you can network with, checking out resources at your disposal, and/or researching strategies to move things forward.
- Help others. Change is ubiquitous. This means in the face of uncertainty, those around you are likely feeling similarly. Reaching out to ask others how you can be of help to them is a great distraction from your own stress and contributes to your personal well-being in the process. A win-win, as they say.
- Stay connected. We are social creatures. Reach out to trusted friends, coworkers, coaches, and family to talk through concerns, ask questions, and learn how they have dealt with change. Even if they can’t offer more clarity on what the future holds, communication with those around you can offer a different perspective and provide a sense of relief and normalcy and keep you aware of potential updates.
Every person manages uncertainty in the best way they know how. For some, this time may provide real clarity about what’s important to them. For others, the key is to take each day step by step, focusing on the present moment and finding the next piece they need to make progress. Remember to trust your process and be kind to yourself during this difficult time.
Diversus Health is a mental and behavioral healthcare organization that has been serving the Pikes Peak and tri-county area for over 145 years. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, call 719-572-6100 to begin the Same Day Access intake with one of our professional mental health providers at Diversus Health today. If you need immediate assistance, call our crisis hotline at 844-493-8255, text ‘TALK’ to 38255, or visit our 24/7 walk-in crisis center at 115 S. Parkside Dr.